Summer in Switzerland
Seven things you HAVE to do on a Swiss Summer holiday
Report by Deborah James
Game of Thrones style scenery, high adrenaline outdoor fun and the best chocolate in the world – you don’t need beaches when you’ve got all of this on your doorstep. Landlocked and largely lauded for all-things-ski, Switzerland isn’t normally the first thought for Brits
1: Actually enjoy train travel
Easy, regular and ALWAYS on time, Swiss train travel makes other countries' railway systems look medieval in comparison. The Jungfrau Railways network takes you twisting up into the mountains and above the clouds in Hogwarts Express-style carriages. Pull down the window all the way for a blast of fresh air and pictures of long-lashed brown cows. A three-day pass costs £142 and gives you access to all areas of the UNESCO World Heritage sites.
2: Pretend you’re in the Sound of Music
When the snow clears and ski runs cease, the hills really do come alive. A beautiful blanket of edelweiss, buttercups and Alpine blooms engulf its meadows. The fairly easy 1.5 hour walk from Grindelwald to Lake Bachalpsee gives you twirl-inducing Von Trapp family-style scenery. The startlingly blue lake at its centre makes the perfect summer afternoon picnic spot.
3: Gorge on champagne truffles
In a country that is known for a) mountains and b) chocolate, it would be rude not to combine the two. Ride the train 3,454 meter above sea-level to Jungfraujoch. Here you’ll discover many ‘highest in Europe’ accolades, including a chocolate shop. There's the poshest pick and mix ever, where you can select from Lindt flavours such as champagne and cream truffles. Find out how it’s all made in the adjacent Master Chocolatiers parlour.
Everything is exciting about the high rise trip to The Jungfraujoch. The cog-wheeled train is like a climbing rollercoaster, creeping up into the mountains. Get over the ear-popping, pull a cardi on and admire the notoriously dangerous left face of the Eiger from the snowy viewing platforms. At the top leave the warm observatory and venture into the snow to marvel at the surrounding Grosser Aletsc glacier. Warm up back inside with whisky and a game of curling at the Ice bar.
5: Go alpine hiking
There are 500km of well-marked trails to explore in the Jungfrau region. Catch the cable car from the pretty towns of Wengen or Grindelward up to Männlichen and discover a plethora of great walking routes all with triple peak views of the mountain ranges of Eiger, Mönch and Jungfra. The newly opened Royal Walk takes you to one of the best vantage points over the Lauterbrunnen Valley. Or the stunning Panorama Trail offers an easy hike (1.5 hours) into its beautiful alpine pastures ending up at the neighbouring train station of Kleine Scheidegg.
6: Hurtle down a mountain (without skis)
Skiing? That’s so last season. Here’s three better adrenaline charged ways to get down a mountain: 1) From the peaks of First, Grindelwald, pretend you’re flying as you’re strapped to a zip line which whizzes you at 84 kph down to Schreckfeld. 2) The next 3km can be hurtled along in a go-kart/sledge hybrid. 3) Finish off speeding downhill on a push scooter. Warning: All of the above have well-needed brakes; you’ll need to be gripping on to them for most of your journey down. Hands can get sore, so you might want to take thin gloves too.
7: Have a hot tub sundowner
Discovering Switzerland in the summer is thirsty work and there’s only one way to relax after a day of hiking/eating chocolates. All the hotels in the Jungfrau Region are well equipped with hot tubs for their post-ski winter visitors, but these feel just as good in the summer after a long hike. Soak up the mountain views with bubbles and a nice cool pint of Rugenbräu. Prost!